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Learning to Live with Pollution: The Making of Environmental Subjects in a Chinese Industrialized Village

Anna Lora-Wainwright, Yiyun Zhang, Yunmei Wu and Benjamin Van Rooij
The China Journal
No. 68 (July 2012), pp. 106-124
DOI: 10.1086/666582
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/666582
Page Count: 19
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Learning to Live with Pollution: The Making of Environmental Subjects in a Chinese Industrialized Village
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Abstract

It is often assumed that, when citizens do not oppose pollution, it is due to their ignorance of its effects or to structural barriers to change. This article argues that a sense that pollution is inevitable is also a major obstacle. We outline the gradual formation of environmental subjects who have learnt to value their environment in ways consonant with the seemingly inevitable presence of pollution. We argue that perceptions of inevitability were produced by: (1) the subordination of villagers to their leaders and the dependence of both on local industries; (2) experiences with protests; and (3) the framing of the exploitation of local resources as part of a broader national project of development. This study sheds light on the study of environmental protests in China by illustrating how parameters for contention come into being and how they are intertwined with the governance of the village and of the environment.

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